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Revelation 13:15

He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast
The power given to the False Prophet here is perhaps the apex of what God has ever allowed in the hands of the enemy: the power to give life. This power is intrinsic to the Creator, and He is intimately involved with the creation of each creature.1 The False Prophet gives breath (pneuma) to that which is initially inanimate, as “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. Gen. 2:7). Unlike all previous lifeless idols which have been the work of men’s hands, the image of the beast is given life. This is probably the capstone of the lying wonders which the False Prophet performs—the grand finale of his deception.

Scripture records that men have readily given worship to lifeless creations in the past:

What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, the molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it there is no breath at all. (Hab. Hab. 2:18-19 cf. Ps. Ps. 135:17-18; Jer. Jer. 10:14; Jer. 51:17-19)

They worship all the more so now when they see the fantastic miracle of the beast’s image having come to life at the hands of the False Prophet. The image itself must be ultimately compelling because the enormity of the miracle performed by the False Prophet does not draw attention to the prophet, but all attention remains focused on the worship of the image itself and the Beast to which it attests.2 Some oppose the notion that the image could truly be given life. They prefer to understand “breath” as denoting animation. Thus, they see the image with breath as a futuristic technological mimic of life. Although this is possible, it doesn’t seem to do justice to the text and the way in which pneuma (breath) denotes life-giving power elsewhere in Scripture (Gen. Gen. 2:7; Rev. Rev. 11:11+). “The pneuma is therefore the equivalent of πνεῦμα ζωῆς [pneuma zōēs] (‘the breath of life’) so recently encountered in connection with the two witnesses.”3

Morris suggests another possibility, that the spirit given may be an unclean spirit, or demon:

The word in the Greek is pneuma, meaning “spirit” or “wind.” The false prophet is enabled (by his own master, Satan) to impart a spirit to the image, but that spirit is one of Satan’s unclean spirits, probably a highly placed demon in the satanic hierarchy. This is a striking case of demon possession, with the demon possessing the body of the image rather than that of a man or woman.4

Although it is impossible to know precisely what is inferred from the “breath” being given to the image, the results are nothing short of life—for the image exhibits apparent intelligence and speaking abilities. We must remember that the False Prophet “exercises all the authority of the first beast” (Rev. Rev. 13:12+) and that the first beast is given “great authority” by the dragon. If the dragon revives the Beast and brings him back from the abyss, as evidenced by the worship of the masses, then why couldn’t the False Prophet with the same measure and source of power give life to the image? Certainly this is not beyond the ability that God could grant if it were within His purpose to do so. Moreover, we have no examples in Scripture of the animation of inanimate objects by demonic possession. Spirits seek embodiment in living hosts (Mark Mark 5:12). Either way, the image appears convincingly lifelike.

The image probably plays a role in the sequence of events associated with the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by both Daniel (Dan. Dan. 11:31; Dan. 12:11 cf. Dan. Dan. 9:27) and Jesus (Mtt. Mat. 24:15):

The abomination of desolation, which the reader is to understand, includes the following elements: 1. It occurs in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Dan. Dan. 11:31; 2Th. 2Th. 2:4). 2. It involves a person setting up a statue in place of the regular sacrifice in the holy of holies (Dan. Dan. 11:31; Dan. 12:11; Rev. Rev. 13:14-15+). 3. This results in the cessation of the regular sacrifice (Dan. Dan. 9:27; Dan. 11:31; Dan. 12:11). 4. There will be a time of about three-and-a-half years between this event . . . and the end of the time period (Dan. Dan. 9:27; Dan. 12:11). 5. It involves an individual setting up a statue or image of himself so that he may be worshipped in place of God (Dan. Dan. 11:31; 2Th. 2Th. 2:4; Rev. Rev. 13:14-15+). 6. The image is made to come to life (Rev. Rev. 13:14+). 7. A worship system to this false god is thus inaugurated (2Th. 2Th. 2:4; Rev. Rev. 13:14-15+). 8. At the end of this time period the individual who commits the act will himself be cut off (Dan. Dan. 9:27).5

This event concludes at the middle of the final week, after the Beast overcomes the two witnesses (Rev. Rev. 11:7+). It is the signal for the flight of the Jewish remnant to the mountains and thereafter to the wilderness. See commentary on Revelation 12:6. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel. See #19 - Image of Beast.

that the image of the beast should . . . speak
This idol is unlike all previous idols which were mute (Ps. Ps. 115:5; Ps. 135:16; Jer. Jer. 10:5). The False Prophet spoke as a dragon (Rev. Rev. 13:11+) and that which he empowers continues in that same vain, ordering the death of those who refuse to worship.

cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed
This is the point of no return. The entire population of the earth is now divided into those who retain physical life, but forever lose spiritual life versus those who retain spiritual life, but are likely to lose physical life. The former are those who worship the Beast and his image. The latter refuse to worship at the cost of their physical lives. The only exceptions are the believing Jewish remnant which is hidden by God (Rev. Rev. 12:6+, Rev. 12:14+) and those who manage to stay alive underground within the Beast’s system (Rev. Rev. 18:4+).

Many of those which refuse the mark and reside within the Beast’s system will be Gentiles who come to faith during this time of the end. Their survival will be precarious on two counts: (1) the Beast, his image, and the Harlot all seek their death; and (2) they will be unable to purchase the basic necessities of life. Many of them will achieve victory over the Beast, not by survival, but by persevering in martyrdom (Rev. Rev. 7:14-17+; Rev. 20:4+).

Those who worship the Beast and his image and take his mark are warned by an angel concerning the seriousness of what they are about to do (Rev. Rev. 14:9+). This unique global warning indicates the irreversible nature of taking the mark. Taking the mark is akin to the unpardonable sin of Jesus’ day—there is no possibility of redemption once the mark is taken (Rev. Rev. 14:9-11+). In stark contrast to the people of faith, they are eternally insecure. This is a unique situation to the time of the end. For what sin is there today from which the blood of Christ cannot redeem? Could not even the likes of a Hitler be saved if he had truly and sincerely repented prior to death? We answer a resounding “yes!” because we understand the priceless value of the blood of the Lamb which provides redemption for all sin (Rev. Rev. 5:9+). For if Christ’s blood cannot atone for some specific sin, then there are two requirements for salvation, not one: receiving Christ by faith and avoiding this specific sin. May it never be!

Here, as at Christ’s First Coming, we have a unique situation where there is a specific act, which once participated in, moves the individual beyond all possibility of redemption . The act is the equivalent of eternal, permanent rejection of the Lamb. So blasphemous and foreordained are these that they are never afforded entry into the Book of Life, not even to be written and subsequently blotted out (Rev. Rev. 13:8+; Rev. 17:8+). Like those who commit the unpardonable sin, taking the mark is the equivalent of permanently rejecting Christ. See Beast Worshipers are Unique.

Those who have victory over the Beast, his image, the mark, and the number of his name are seen in heaven prior to the pouring forth of the bowl judgments (Rev. Rev. 15:2+ cf. Rev. Rev. 16:2+). Therefore, this command to take the mark must occur prior to the bowl judgments. Those who refuse to worship the Beast or his image and refuse his mark are “beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God” (Rev. Rev. 20:4+). These live and reign with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. When the third bowl judgment is poured forth, the remainder of the rivers and springs become blood. An angel explains this righteous judgment of God: “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due” (Rev. Rev. 16:6+).

The image which requires worship is typified by Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. Those who refused to bow down before it were cast into a furnace (Dan. Dan. 3:5). As the three young Hebrew men were preserved through the fire, so too will be those saints who live at the time of the end (Rev. Rev. 7:14+; Rev. 15:2+; Rev. 20:4+).


Notes

1 Concerning God’s involvement with the inception and development of life: Ex. Ex. 21:22-23; Jdg. Jdg. 13:5; Job Job 10:11; Job 31:15; Ps. Ps. 22:9-10; Ps. 119:73; Ps. 139:13; Ecc. Ecc. 11:5; Isa. Isa. 44:2, Isa. 44:24; Isa. 49:5; Jer. Jer. 1:5. This is one of numerous reasons why abortion is morally equivalent to murder (Ex. Ex. 21:22-23). It is the interrupting by sinful man of that which God has established.

2 Here again we see the parallel between the False Prophet and the Holy Spirit: both refusing to draw attention to themselves, but dedicated to pointing to whom they serve.

3 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 13:15.

4 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 13:15.

5 Ice, “An Interpretation of Matthew 24-25—Part XIII,” in Thomas Ice, ed., Pre-Trib Perspectives, vol. 8 no. 1 (Dallas, TX: Pre-Trib Research Center, May 2003), 6.

Read Revelation 13:15